Of recent I have been really paying more attention to my surroundings, more specifically the design of my surroundings. I have been consumed by color and line. I have been riding in cars and staring out of windows taking notice of skylines, the shapes of the structures, the way the sun reflects from one building off of another during certain times of the day. Providing ethereal lighting just for that one moment in time. Not to be seen until the conditions are exactly the same next year. And then I saw him.
He was taking a photograph of a storefront window. A very stylish cafe on Melrose called … the name escapes me. Probably taking trendy photos for some blog or collecting images from his amero-trip to take home. Anyhoo, he was wielding his lens very gently and dressed casually in a vintage topper, khakis, tee-shirt, and boat sneakers. He was wearing spectacles and appeared to be of Nippon origin. But it was his vest that caught my attention. He was wearing a black vest over his tee-shirt and this vest was the ultimate statement piece. It was not only black in color on the front, but leopard printed all over the backside.
I thought aloud to my driver, whom is a very stylish interior decorator and collector of all curious items of vintage nature, “What a cool vest!” She replied a simple ‘Yeah.” Animal print is always so interesting.
Primitive man and woman used the skins for warmth and protection. Maybe when we wear animal print we are searching to discover our primitive past? I am sure it was a symbol of wealth and the powers of survival to have been wearing animal print five million years ago. Yes, five.
Throughout history, kings and other high people have used animal print rugs and such as a sign of status just as mounted animals are kept as trophies. Animal prints have this mystique about them harking back to primitive times. Animal print screams success, power, aristocracy. An ancient telltale of wealth and power. Generally very expensive and very rare in the past, not to be confused with animal fur which is real, animal prints are just that, prints that look like animal skins. Harmless indeed.
The 1940’s saw the emergence of animal print during the early stages of the women’s movement. Liberator pioneers like BettiePage were the inspiration for animal print to be sexy and fashionable. Cheetah print I believe was her thing.
The 1950’s fashion designer Christian Dior’s muse Mitzah Bricard was fascinated by leopard print. Dior followed his heart and infused his accessories, lines, and campaigns with leopard. The forward movement redefined animal print to a level of chic sophistication and elegance. No womans ensemble was complete without a touch of leopard.
The 1960’s saw a whole new revolution spawned by the Hippie Movement as a new place for exotic animal pelt patterns, which were emulated on printed patterns for popular women’s apparel in different new rebellious colors. The concept to be wild and free like an “Easy Rider”.
The dangerous side of animal print appeared in the 1970’s. The Punk Rock movement brought about leopard print accents and torn cheetah print stockings. Rebellious music paired with the wild equals chic, sexy and dangerous. The 70’s also brought about nightgowns infused with animal prints, teddies, undies, etc. Leopard print jumpsuits, bell bottoms, even zebra print platform shoes. The emergence of street art and hip hop music were propelled by Blondie at this great moment in fashion and music history.
We won’t discuss the 80’s. I think we all want the era to fade away. Here is a reminder.
Jumping to 00’s, funny isn’t it, now is the time to take all of that trial and error and make good of it all. Animal prints will always be sexy, chic, fun, dangerous, elegant, adventurous, alluring, and downright brilliant. As I mentioned before I am intrigued by animal print. It compels me to show my primal side when venturing out on the town. It never goes out of style, and this coming fall it will be the hottest trend!
If animal print isn’t enough then get some animal print with jewels and stones adorning! Now that’s exciting.
Jackie Collins once said “My weakness is wearing too much leopard print.”